Posts Tagged ‘entrepreneur’
In the event your small business starts experiencing a lull in cash flow, you need to act fast. Even if you’re still profitable on paper, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have enough in the bank to pay the bills. Problems can arise especially if your company is successful, but your customers start slowing down their payments.
David Worrell of Allbusiness.com has a specialty in finance and managing small businesses. He wrote a great article on a few tips that can help you survive a cash flow crisis. Below are a few pieces of advice from David that may help to save your company from going under.
Know the numbers.
“In good times and bad, keep an eye on key cash flow numbers. I’m not talking just about a cash flow statement each month, but also about key ratios or metrics in your business. If you start this habit in good times, you’ll have forewarning when cash turns against you,” David says.
His advice is extremely useful in this circumstance because new business owners have their focus spread out. It’s important to keep a finger on the pulse of your cash flow because you will be able to better sense an incoming crisis and have more opportunities to prevent it from happening.
Cut your own pay. Now.
“Besides taking pressure off of cash, this will motivate you to fix the problem. If you hide behind a salary – and keep building debt, or laying off staff to pay yourself – the problem will grow worse until it is out of control. Cutting your own pay also demonstrates leadership to your team,” David says.
This fact is extremely important to running and entrepreneurial business. As a leader, you need to demonstrate how important it is to work together with your team members. If that means your employees are paid and you’re not in times of crisis, so be it. They will be more motivated to stick with you and have a deeper connection with the business. Employees that feel as though they are a part of the company – rather than just employed by it, can help take a company to a much higher level.
You can’t start anything and expect it to succeed if you don’t have a plan. After developing, nurturing and convincing yourself and all of your confidantes that your new venture proposal is an absolutely fantastic idea, you need to write a business plan.
There are many different views on how long this process can take, some say a few weeks and some say six months. It truly all depends on the kinds of resources you have available like time, money to conduct an effective amount of research, and the people you need to work with in order to create the best business plan ever.
Here are a few tips based on some advice from Tim Berry, founder of Palo Alto Software, about a few factors that make an effective business plan.
It must match the business purpose
Your small business should have an ultimate end goal in mind, whether the plan is to exit to get investment, create a self-sustaining charity, or whatever your goal for your business may be. Your business plan should be framed by your business purpose – where your business is going and what you want to leave behind.
Lesson 1: Your business plan must outline your company objective.
It must be realistic
Your business plan really won’t get you anywhere if your projections are off the charts. You may have a fantastic business plan with pretty charts and flawless formatting, but if you are presenting an idea for a product that simply cannot be produced, it’s not going to catch on.
Lesson 2: Step back and assess the feasibility of your plan.
It must be specific
According to Tim Berry, “every business plan ought to include tasks, deadlines, dates, forecasts, budgets, and metrics. It’s measurable.” This idea is so true and it’s amazing how many business plans leave out the crucial information. You can make your company sound great but if you don’t have the numbers backing up your projections, you might as well start over.
Lesson 3: Outline your business’s every detail
You have to give yourself the ability to track your results and see if you are in line with your projections and goals. You will most likely encounter set backs and a few failures here and there but if you have a solid business plan and structure in place, it won’t be difficult to reassess your business situation and get back in line.
In lieu of Valentine’s Day next week i decided to cover a topic a little closer to our hearts. How do we business-oriented people balance our relationships and our professions? This sort of advice can apply to any career-oriented person, not just the newly budding entrepreneur or over-achieving small business owner.
Entrepreneur.com recently posted an article that discusses the ultimate business question: how do you balance your business and your personal life? Any mentor will tell you that owning your own business can often strain even the best marriages. The article shows how three couples manage to balance romance and business.
Travel often comes with the territory when you own your own business. Entrepreneurs Peter and Susan Fuller (married for 18 years) have firsthand experience. They each own a separate business in Indianapolis and Peter is forced to travel frequently – one of the number one strains of any relationship, especially if there are children involved.
Peter felt he was doing his best to stay connected but once he slowed his business travel to once every six weeks, and supplemented the time apart with Skype video calls, the couple was able to regain their passion.
in any relationship it’s important to have similar goals, like having the freedom to create their own paths in life.
Another struggle couples often go through when business is involved is the failure of a venture. Dediako Rogers watched helplessly as his real-estate business plummeted in 2008 after the housing-market collapse. He and his wife, Rachel were newlyweds and were constantly cutting expenses in every way they could, including downsizing their home and sharing one vehicle.
The couple was able to get back on their feet after Rachel received her law degree and started a law firm serving Gen-Y entrepreneurs and business owners.
Being married to another entrepreneur is helpful because you understand each other’s drive to run their own business. Be supportive of each others’ pursuits and encourage each other to start new businesses and try new things.
One of the most unlikely strains comes from being married to your business partner. It can make it difficult to keep business from becoming involved in every part of your life. Jessica Rovello and Kenny Rosenblatt met while working at a tech company and launched an online gaming business in 2001 together. They married in 2004.
The two experienced difficulties when they caught themselves bringing their work home.
Respect each other’s passion for your professions. It’s important to balance work topics with fun topics as well.
If you are an aspiring entrepreneur, 2011 is the best time to start a business. If you’re tired of working in a managerial environment and you’re ready to take on a market, you should start exploring some ideas. Before taking off into a new venture, you need to be aware of what kind of opportunities are excelling in the market this year.
The Noobpreneur Business Blog posted 10 great ideas for budding entrepreneurs everywhere to consider. Read on to see the ones I thought were the most opportunistic for 2011.
1. Online business and make money online
Online businesses will always thrive so long as our society continues to depend on technology the way it does today. People search for products, brands, prices, reviews, and just about everything they need online. Your online business can be very lucrative because it is more cost-effective (if executed properly) than a brick-and-mortar location. If you set up your small business website, make sure you maintain control over the content so you can adapt to the changing environment and evolving consumer preferences.
2. Personalized products and/or services
There is a growing need for expressing individuality in today’s market. Customization is always a great way to please your consumer base. Offering a product your consumers can design themselves is almost a guarantee of customer satisfaction and word-of-mouth marketing. The opportunities are limitless here. You can offer t-shirts, greeting cards, school supplies, really anything that someone can personalize – you can take advantage of.
3. Small business with a cause
I recently learned of a non-profit organization that offers a free online game similar to Facebook’s Farmville. This game allows the user to build villages and actually purchase provisions for the village. By making donations and purchasing provisions through the game, the game hosts purchase real life provisions and provide them to a needy village in Uganda. Once the village is self-sustaining, they can move on to another village. They then take pictures of the provisions being provided to the village in Uganda, and post them so the gamers can see them and be involved in the whole process.
Offering an abstract incentive to buying your product can go a very long way towards your business success. If you embed a social cause into your products and services, you will have happy customers.
There are so many opportunities for you to take advantage of. Setting up your business is the easy part – it’s finding an idea that’s difficult. All you have to do is pay attention to a problem in the market and figure out a way to solve it.
Owning your own small business entails a lot of responsibility. Truthfully it can be a very lonely path. You have to have all the right things going for you, the right personality, the right skill set, the right exposure to the right industries. It’s all very complicated.
But! It can be simple. You just have to understand that your role as a business owner is completely different from that of an employee. You have to think bigger than just deadlines or driving traffic to your business website.
How to think big
Before you choose to start your small business, you have to use the kinds of skills and habits in your every day life, even if you’re still working under someone else. Chris Brogan puts it in better words than I can:
“I took on challenges that other project managers didn’t find interesting. I took on messy projects that had a high possibility of failure. And sometimes I failed. But because I stepped up, I was noticed, and I got more and more power.”
That’s just it, stepping up. Having been a competitive athlete my whole life, I’ve heard it all. I’ve heard just about every motivational quote out there. The one that sticks with me most because I can apply to my daily routine is:
“Success comes from taking on tasks no one else wants, and completing them well.”
How to seek opportunity
In order to be successful in your business venture, you have to see the opportunities when others don’t. You find dollar signs hidden within your customer’s complaints. Your main priority should be solving your customer’s problems, or making yourself more accessible to customers and their needs.
Your business should represent who you are as a person. If you decide to own your own business, you need to market yourself and your brand as a resource to customers with specific problems. If you find a way to better the quality of life for you customers, you have found the perfect opportunity.
Do you think your personality has what it takes to become a successful entrepreneur? According to Entrepreneur.com, your personality has a lot to say about who you become, the potential you have, and how successful you will be.
It has been shown in various studies that certain personality traits can outshine shortcomings in education, skill, and experience. It also makes logical sense that if a person chooses a business venture that coincides with their personality, he or she will experience a greater amount of success.
Entrepreneur.com explores four general personality types of people who typically start, own, and run the majority of successful businesses. Read Entrepreneur.com’s summation of entrepreneurial personalities and see if you have what it takes:
1. The Trailblazer:
You are very competitive, ambitious and goal- oriented–so much so that you tend to be aggressive and sometimes take a steamroller approach. Independent, persistent and decisive, you aren’t happy unless you’re in charge. Trailblazers are logical, analytical, practical and realistic–you tend to base decisions on facts rather than feelings. You are a calculated risk taker.
Good industries for you could include the medical, technology, finance, legal and consulting fields. Being a strong strategic thinker, you focus easily on marketing strategy and operations. Your challenge is likely to be working with people–you are usually a better leader than manager and need to surround yourself with others who can manage the people side of the business.
2. The Go-Getter:
You have a higher-than-average level of both dominance and sociability and are very driven and independent. You are competitive, but your drive to succeed is sometimes tempered by your interest in and concern for others. Go-Getters are typically good leaders and good managers, excelling at motivating themselves and those around them.
You can do well in retail, but may prefer being the outside rainmaker. You work well in ambitious and unfamiliar environments. This means you can invest in, buy or start a business that’s totally new to you and still make a success of it. You don’t need to be an expert in the field to start the business–you are a good collaborator and can learn as you go.
3. The Manager:
You are dominant and independent. You are also very goal-oriented and can be quite analytical, focusing more on processes and outcomes than on people. You have a tendency to look at people as vehicles for helping you accomplish your goals. You can deal well with customers, especially repeat customers, so you’ll probably be great at growing a business.
You like doing things on your own, are a great behind-the-scenes leader and love working with systems, concepts, ideas and technologies. You excel at competitive selling because you enjoy overcoming rejection and achieving goals despite obstacles. Managers enjoy working by themselves, and managing others can be a challenge, so you need to hire employees who are better than you at listening and working well with others.
4. The Motivator:
You have a high level of sociability, an above-average level of dominance, and are both driven and independent. This gives you the ability to work well under pressure and in autonomous situations. It also means that you will be a great consensus builder, a good collaborator and a driver of change. Just like the name suggests, you are the consummate motivator who does well working by, with and through others.
Motivators excel at leadership or sales. You can be convincing and avoid most confrontation by creating a strong emotional argument. Motivators do well in the toughest of customer service roles, as you are able to see both sides of the argument. You do well in business with partners, or in a business that involves others. Motivators are good at nurturing relationships and often do best in a business that involves keeping clients for the long term. You thrive in a team environment.
Who should you hire? Such a complicated question – a person you hire could mean anything from your new small business propelling forward in a new direction or your new small business chugging straight toward a dead end.
If you are a small business owner, the people on your team are so incredibly important to the success of your business. It is crucial (and also highly difficult) to hire people that will add value and substance to your business.
So how do you do it?
Share your vision
I recently attended a lecture on entrepreneurship given by William J. Rossi, a program director and professor at the University of Florida. His lecture explored the attributes and mindsets of entrepreneurs. The most important attribute Rossi discussed was the ability an entrepreneur has to share his vision with his employees, and make them feel like a part of something bigger.
The greatest entrepreneurs have a vision. They visualize and imagine a direction they will travel in that will eventually better the quality of life for consumers. So what does this have to do with hiring the right people into your business?
A truly successful entrepreneur understands the importance of motivating others. People in managerial positions give their employees deadlines, expectations, revision requirements, etc. Entrepreneurs however, trust people to do the job themselves, but it’s more than that – entrepreneurs give their employees a reason to do a good job, they are part of the vision.
“A leader focuses on motivation and inspiration. He energizes people to overcome bureaucratic, resource and political barriers because they believe in an agenda and want to accomplish it,” Rossi says.
Hiring the right person
So to tie it all together, when you hire someone who you believe to be qualified for the position, you have to take it a step further. You have to invite your employees to contribute to the overall direction, ask their opinions, take their advice, and allow them to participate in the bigger picture. This could apply to anyone, whether they work in marketing, finance, sales, manufacturing – everyone should be passionate about the “vision” you have created.
By giving people an overall sense of purpose, they are more likely to excel at individual tasks. When someone feels like they are a part of something bigger than themselves, they will undoubtedly do everything in their power to succeed.
Be a leader, not a manager.